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President Biden discussed the 2018 killing of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi security officials with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who said when they met on Friday he was “not personally responsible” for his death. dead.
In a press conference following meetings with Crown Prince and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Said, Biden said he discussed human rights issues, including Khashoggi’s death.
“He basically said he wasn’t personally responsible for it,” Biden said of MBS. “I indicated that he was, and he said that he was not personally responsible for it and that he took action against those responsible. »
Khashoggi was a Washington Post contributor and was killed in 2018 by Saudi security officials, but MBS was suspected of involvement.
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Biden said he then ‘spoke more about how dealing with any opposition to criticism of the Saudi administration in other countries was considered, to me, a violation of human rights’ .
Biden, during a 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate, vowed to make the kingdom a global ‘pariah’ because of its human mistreatment, violations of international law and open hostility to the United States. – including the murder of Khashoggi.
When asked if he regretted calling the Saudis outcasts, the president replied, “I don’t regret anything.”
“Do I regret it? I don’t regret anything I said,” Biden added.
Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, met with White House officials last week.
The president, who was criticized on Friday for punching MBS upon his arrival at the Al Salam Royal Palace, was also asked how he could be sure another murder, like that of Khashoggi , would not take place.
” God loves you. What a silly question,” Biden said. “How could I be sure of all this? »
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The president, however, pointed out that he “just clarified that if something happens again”, there will be “an answer and much more”.
“Look, you’ve heard me say before, and when I criticize Xi Jinping, for slave labor and what they do… in the mountains of western China, and he said, I didn’t have no right to criticize China, and I said, look, I’m president of the United States of America,” Biden said. “And for the President of the United States (to) remain silent on a gross violation of human rights, it is totally inconsistent with who we are, what we are, and what we would do, what we believe. »
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Biden added, “And so I am not silent. Can I predict that anything is going to happen, let alone here, let alone in any other part of the world? No. But I don’t know why you’re all so surprised at the way I’m reacting. Nobody ever wondered. I mean what I say. The question is, sometimes I say everything I want to say.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in a meeting Friday before Biden’s meetings, said the president would spend time speaking publicly about human rights issues during the trip and “would have a conversation about fundamental human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. ”